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When Power Silences the Other,
My World on May 7, 2005

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Part of Painting of When Power Silences the Other
jeanne's When Power Silences the Other
One of Basquiat's Skull Heads

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: May 7, 2005
Latest Update: May 7, 2005

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I told you it wasn't about sex or religion or marriage or money, even. It's about control and knowingness. It's about silencing the Other. It's about forced consensus when we've never been able to show that consensus even makes sense. Intense authority, the kind that led to the Inquisition and McCarthy's red baiting, is needed to enforce consensus, because people tend to diverge into their own thoughts and experiences if you don't control that with frequent meetings and frequent rule enforcement. And rule enforcement requires someone's certainty that the rule is right, at least for those upon whom we choose to enforce it.

This morning's New York Times features on the front page Laurie Goodstein's article, Vatican Is Said to Force Jesuit Off Magazine. "The order to dismiss the editor, the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, was issued by the Vatican's office of doctrinal enforcement - the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - in mid-March when that office was still headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. . . The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith first complained to Jesuit officials about the magazine four years ago, the church officials said, after America published a special issue with articles criticizing "Dominus Jesus," a document on interfaith relations and the supremacy of Catholicism that had been issued by the Congregation." Backup.

As a lapsed Catholic, born into the Catholic church, with a long family history (which caused me never to be baptized in the Catholic church) involving Catholisicm, I am horrified that a recognized scholar and adherent to the Catholic faith has been dismissed at least in part over criticizing "the supremacy of Catholicism." This is an example of control of thought and action that I find not only unacceptable but ultimately impractical and unmanageable. Power and hierarchy lead to hubris and the certainty of knowingness; and none of us is given to know with such certainty for all. To believe, yes. But not to know in the sense that no other information or perspective could be valid, for only God is omniscient, and that is, if you believe.

My discomfort with this article led me to go back to art. Today I reshaped yesterday's drawing into the form of a cross, the lowest third of which is collaged from one of Basquiat's heads, the head that represents for me the dangers that knowingness will lead to colonization, suppression, and exploitation. The cross piece I took from yesterday's drawing, minus the collage of Basquiat's head, replacing the head with a tornado-like force that destroys all in its path, not just that which it intends to control. War-like in nature, isn't it? And the top piece of the cross I completed with the snake that had appeared elsewhere in yesterday's drawing, and I used the snake as an icon for all the violence and injustice I fear from authority-enforced knowingness. This interpretation doesn't follow the painting. The painting will stand on its own. But knowing what I was feeling may accompany the feeling, and perhaps will help you to feel these issues more deeply on your own, and perhaps alter the drawing. Welcome to it. Through building on one another's ideas, while listening in good faith to the Other, we begin to engage in the illocutionary discourse that will lead us hopefully to more effective governance discourse.

Well, now I add to our reading America, the National Catholic Weekly

More later. jeanne

love and peace, jeanne

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